All Creatures Great and Small
Over the last few weeks we have taken a number of calls from landlords concerned that new legislation has been passed that requires them to accept pets. So we thought it would be helpful to give you a quick read on the latest position.
At the end of January my old pals at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) made it known that they had updated their model tenancy agreements. This update allowed for tenants to have a pet.
As a dog lover myself I know the joys they can bring. I imagine that many landlords feel the same and on balance a well behaved pet and owner is never likely to be a problem
However, sometimes it may not be appropriate. A top floor flat with no garden for example. Or a boisterous pooch in dire need of therapy from Graham Hall (look him up). In these circumstances a landlord may be hesitant to give permission for a tenant to have a pet. In addition the Tenant Fees Act 2019 capped deposits at 5 weeks in most cases, and this has removed the ‘danger money’ a landlord could rely on should there be excessive damages at the end of the tenancy.
Many tenants want to establish long term homes, and for some being able to cuddle up to a pet at night is part and parcel of every day life. For this reason landlords should give consideration to any requests and not withhold consent unreasonably.
What does the law say?
At the time of writing there is no legislation that requires a landlord to agree. The model tenancy agreement is a clear signal that the Government may be looking to change this.
For example, there is a bill that has been introduced to Parliament called the Dogs and Domestic Animals (Accommodation and Protection) Bill. This has had one reading with further readings postponed and not yet re-listed. The majority of bills introduced never make it into law but you can see the briefing paper using the link here.
Any future legislation that comes about from this bill is likely to provide certain situations where exemption is acceptable. You will see that on Page 2 of the document it talks about including a regulation for allowing refusal “(b) because the accommodation is unsuitable for a dog or domestic animal.”
Taking our top floor flat example, this would clearly be unsuitable and is very likely that the head lease would provide such a restriction.
Landlords will need to consider whether the pet is a disability animal. If this is authentic then the landlord must give permission as to not do so could be seen as discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.
Where a landlord allows a pet they should make sure their tenancy agreement is robust and contains “pet clauses”.
Paws for thought
So all in all, it is anticipated the law will be reformed at some point in the future. Until then our best advice would be to give serious consideration to any request – a happy tenant is normally a long term tenant.
Please note the date this article was published as the law may have changed since it was posted. You should always seek independent legal advice if you are intending to rely on any of the contents.All resources & news